"Nothing in life is truly free" -Billionaire heiress Betsy Devos, explaining to Bernie Sanders why your kids won't get free college tuition

Convicted election fraudster and public education opponent Betsy Devos made her billions through hard work -- really, you can't overstate the effort required to emerge from the loins of someone who married a rich guy, nor the work of later marrying someone else who emerged from the loins someone who married a rich guy. Read the rest

Bible references make very weak passwords

An analysis of passwords found in the 2009 breach of Rockyou -- 32 million accounts -- finds a large number of Biblical references ("jesus"," "heaven", "faith", etc), including a number of Bible verse references ("john316"). Read the rest

The demons of Jacques Auguste Simon Collin de Plancy's Dictionnaire Infernal

In 1818, Jacques Auguste Simon Collin de Plancy published his Dictionnaire Infernal, but it wasn't until Henry Plon's sixth printing in 1863 that the book got its now-infamous illustrations, which are a world of wonderful. Read the rest

Just in time for Hanukkah: Maccabees and Menorahs, a dreidel powered RPG

Randy sez, "Maccabees and Menorahs is a one page RPG played with a dreidel and gelt. Designed to run over 8 short sessions, one for each night of Hanukkah." Read the rest

Feds charge hedge-fund managers with $1B embezzlement

According to a federal indictment, Platinum Partners founder Mark Nordlicht and four others faked the hedge fund's books for years to allow them to siphon off one billion dollars to their personal accounts, swindling 600 investors. Read the rest

Trump's anti-education Education Secretary owes millions in election fraud fines

Betsy DeVos is the self-described neo-Calvinist and wife of the heir to the Amway fortune who's devoted her life to fighting against public education through a system of vouchers that allow for public funding of religious schools; in accord with the trumpian maxim of "a fox for every henhouse," she has been selected to serve as Trump's Education Secretary. Read the rest

Idiocraski: the apocalyptic situation in Poland after a year of trumpism

It's been a year since the Law and Justice Party won the Polish election, on familiar-sounding promises to drain the swamp and restore Poland to its former greatness: now school textbooks are being redesigned to downplay evolution and climate change and to recount a fanciful version of Poland's history; the government is mooting giving hoteliers the right to turn away customers based on sexual orientation or skin-color; a minister rejected an international accord against wife-beating because it subverted traditional gender roles; Parliament is about to get the right to choose which journalists may report from its debates; the guy in charge of national sex-ed curriculum believes that condoms give women cancer; a proposed law will virtually end opposition protests; and disloyal journalists at the "independent" state broadcaster have been purged. Read the rest

50 million people in Myanmar can now get Facebook, and they're spreading a trumpian ethnic cleansing movement

Myanmar has been a technologically backwards authoritarian state for much of the past 50 years, with less than 1% of the country connected to the net, until 2015, when the country held its first elections in decades, a moment that was swiftly followed by a relaxation in telcoms controls and widespread access to the internet via mobile devices. Read the rest

Quran hand-lettered in gold on transparent black silk

Azerbaijani artist Tünzale Memmedzade spent three years writing out the Quran in gold ink on transparent black silk, and the effect is just beautiful. Read the rest

Florida atheists pair public nativity scene with a combustible Trump-themed Distrestivus pole

Every year, the Religious Liberty Project puts Festivus poles on the lawns of public buildings that sport Christian religious holiday symbols; this year, RLP's Chaz Stevens put a "Distrestivus" pole adjacent to a nativity scene on Deerfield Beach, Florida public land. Read the rest

Pacifist sect controls a Mayan-inspired pyramid in North Dakota

Fusion looks at the tensions between a pacifist religious sect and local North Dakota officials over an abandoned Cold War anti-missile complex that looks like something out of Illuminati conspiracies. The Hutterites won the auction for the giant pyramid on the prairie to the chagrin of local officials, who unsuccessfully tried to buy the decomissioned military facility. Read the rest

Atheist shoes experience a miraculous transformation

Atheist Shoes (previously), the stylish German shoes whose souls soles bear atheist messages ("Ich Bin Atheist") are getting ready to relaunch with a tweaked new design called DAS SNEAKER, which sports more cushioning and thinner soles for greater flexibility, as well as a retro turn-up toe. Read the rest

Pastor sprays insecticide on believers to "heal them"

Lethebo Rabalago, pastor of the Mount Zion General Assembly (MZGA), in Limpopo, South Africa, sprays his congregants with Doom Super Multi Insect Killer to heal them of various ailments. From CNN:

A post from Saturday (on Rabalago's Facebook page) was captioned as if quoting a congregant, saying: "I came here with a pain on my back and stomach. Now, after the prophet sprayed me with Doom I am healed. My nose was blocked since last week, but after the prophet sprayed me with Doom I feel coming out of my nose. I thank God for healing me."

When reached by phone, Rabalago declined to answer CNN's questions about his use of bug spray and hung up. MZGA could not be reached for comment, but in an interview with South African TV channel eNCA Rabalago said that God had told him to use Doom, and that he had healed countless people using it.

Tiger Brands, makers of Doom, issued a statement that the practice is "extremely concerning" and "that it is unsafe to spray Doom Super Multi Insect killer or any other aerosol spray for that matter, into people's faces." Read the rest

Was Jesus an extraterrestrial?

In 1954, a London taxi driver named George King received an extraterrestrial mental telegram informing him that he's been deemed the voice of the Interplanetary Parliament. Motivated by his new cosmic position, he launched the Aetherius Society to spread the spiritual teachings of extraterrestrial gurus like Buddha, Sri Krishna, Confucius, and Jesus. Sure, why not. King died in 1997 but the Aetherius Society lives on. MEL Magazine's Jonathan Parks-Ramage paid them a visit:

“The biggest reason why the Aetherius Society is here, why the Cosmic Masters came to earth, is because the Mother Earth has to change,” Keneipp says. “She’d held herself back for hundreds of thousands of years because she’s providing mankind a home to evolve. She’s been told by the karmic lords that she can no longer hold herself back. And so the big push by the Cosmic Masters is to raise as many people up so that they will be able to get to a point where they will enter a new age here on earth.”

Essentially, the Society’s goal is to lift Mother Earth’s burden with love and prayer, a task helped by descended Cosmic Masters like Jesus and Buddha.

Inspired by his new religion, Keneipp soon abandoned the pre-med program at SIU, deciding instead to moved to Los Angeles in 1978. Keneipp devoted his life to the church, working directly with George King as he expanded his religion. I ask Keneipp what it was like to work for King during those formative years.

His response surprises me.

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Ten Commandments tablet up for auction

Tomorrow, you can bid to own the earliest known stone tablet carved with the Ten Commandments. The two-foot-square, 115 pound marble stone was discovered in 1913 near Yavneh, Israel. The inscription is dated circa 300-830 CE and the tablet is in one piece, so unfortunately it's probably not the original Ten Commandments delivered by God on Mount Sinai and promptly smashed by Charleston Heston. Opening bid is $220,000. From Heritage Auctions:

The details of the Yavneh Stone's discovery are related in an article by Y. Kaplan and Yitzhak Ben-Zvi in the 1947 Journal of the Jewish Palestine Exploration Society. According to Mr. Kaplan's account, this extraordinary artifact was rediscovered in 1913, during the excavation of a railroad line along the southern coastal plain of Palestine. The discovery was made near Yavneh, an historic city called Jabneel in the Hebrew Bible. The workmen who found it did not recognize its importance and either sold or gave it to a local Arab man of some means, who set the stone into the threshold of a room leading to his inner courtyard, with the inscription facing up. Due to foot traffic, several words on the center left side of the tablet were blurred over time.

In 1943, thirty years after his father acquired it, the man's son sold the stone to Mr. Kaplan, who immediately recognized its importance as an extremely rare "Samaritan Decalogue," one of five such extant stone inscriptions dating to before the Muslim invasion of the seventh century CE...

The Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA) granted export approval for this piece in perpetuity to the Living Torah Museum in a letter dated 20 March, 2005.

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Philippines president Duterte says God threatened to crash his plane if he didn't stop swearing

Duterte has vowed to stop using "epithets" (for example, he called Pope Francis a "son of a bitch" and told Obama to "go to hell") because God threatened to crash the airplane he was flying home from Japan in if he didn't cut it out. Read the rest

Memes officially bigger than Jesus

According to Google Trends, the search term "memes" is now more popular than the search term "Jesus," a fact noticed by Dominik Vincent Salonen, @Kuwaddo on Twitter.

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